'Fireweed: A zine of grassroots radical herbalism and wild foods connecting with kids and family life'
edited by Jess
In the spirit of honesty and full disclosure, I must say up front that I have contributed a piece to this zine. However, my small contribution is not what leads me to recommend this zine as one of the most inspiring projects to occur in years. It is both the zine's unique focus as well as the assortment of authors that results in such a beautiful work.
This labor of love is the creation of Jess, a radical mama who had a vision to assemble a variety of parents and herbalists and publish their thoughts on working with children. Stories, interviews, songs, and recipes spill forth out of the pages, accompanied by delicate hand-drawn botanical illustrations courtesy of Monkeypants.
Jess starts us off with a few ideas on 'Wildcrafting with Kids.' Covering safety, help from kids, talking/listening to the plants, and spending as much time as possible outside in all kids of weather. Most importantly, she reminds readers to let go of expectations, remaining flexible and open (something that children will be more than happy to teach us).
This is followed by an interview with Cory Trusty, an herbalist who specializes in Chinese therapeutics. Cory shares her experience of wildcrafting and raising chickens in Central Florida with her daughter.
5 year old Broccoli sings praise to the almighty Plantain. Sharing with us her wisdom of the magic held by Plantago in all her glory.
In the deeply nourishing tradition of Weston A. Price and Sally Fallon, Michigan herbalist Jim Mcdonald treats readers to a recipe for ‘Bone Broth.’ Not only a delicious stock for meals, bone broth is also an indispensable medicine rich in minerals.
“Who loves a Nettle infusion Mustache?” begins the next article on ‘Good Kid Drinks.’ Jess continues the wise woman ways of Susan Weed by including some pointers on making ‘Nourishing Herbal Infusions’.
Another Herbal Parent Interview follows. This time it is the amazing herbwife Kiva Rose, co-director of the Anima Center (a wildlife sanctuary in the Gila Wilderness) and founder of Medicine Woman Tradition correspondence course. Kiva discusses how her daughter Rhiannon, by growing up immersed in an herbalist culture, learns respect and admiration for the power of plants.
Kristena Haslam Roder gives some great advice on dealing with the common cold using two spices that can be found in the average kitchen: Garlic and Ginger. Roder recounts her nightmare of having the flu for a fortnight while she had company staying for the holidays, and how Ginger and Garlic came to her rescue.
Next Maria Noel Groves encourages children to enjoy blindfold games, scavenger hunts and other herbal activities, as well as summarizing a dozen of the best herbs for kids. This active article is followed, appropriately enough, by a calming letter of thanks to ‘Dear Catnip’ where Jess recounts how Nepeta cataria helped her son as he struggled through the pain of teething.
Kiva Rose returns to celebrate the alchemy of Lacto-Fermented Brews. Lovers of homebrews, ales, and homemade wine will appreciate this ancient art as Kiva walks us through the process of making ‘Elderberry Sparkle.’
The Kitchen Herbwyfe, Sarah Head, gives a wonderful overview of ‘Herbs for Family Health.’ Covering everything from wounds to rashes to infections, her expertise is offered for infants, children, and teenagers.
Moonwolf (age 10) provides a book review of ‘Wise Child’ by Monica Furlong, and shares his opinion that every plant and animal is magical, but only individuals who truly believe can share that power.
‘One Family’s Search for Food in the Desert’ leads us through the scrub brush to the Native staple Prickly Pear. Randall Amster and Leenie Halbert touch on the Indigenous use, harvesting, nutritional qualities, and versatility of Prickly Pear.
The zine is rounded out with a list of kids books on herbs and ended with author bios and contact information.
I cannot recommend this highly enough. The wealth of information and experience is unparalleled. The first-hand accounts are so accessible, I felt as if I were seated around a campfire with old friends each sharing their adventures and stories of raising children in the herbalist tradition. Fireweed is a lovely zine ablaze with future possibilities.